Patricians were the uppermost elite class of ancient Rome. They were largely consisting of families with famous or influential ancestors. The word patrician, or patricius, is partly based on the Latin word Pater, which means father.

In the early days of the Roman Republic intermarriages were forbidden between patricians and plebeians. As well, particians would often forbid any trading between them and the plebeians. These restrictions were relaxed as time passed, and the number of patricians decreased.

In the later Roman Empire, the emperor Constantine reintroduced the title Patrician as an honorific for people who demonstrated faithful service to the Empire. By the end of the fifth century, it had become the title of the man who held the power behind the Imperial throne, usually a general of the roman army, such as Stilicho, Aetius, and Ricimer.